Only in London can you see Big Ben. Only in London can you see Buckingham Palace. And, only in London can you see queen.
I felt a huge “aha” moment come over me when I first saw Big Ben. The architecture and gold detailing on that building is absolutely gorgeous. Seeing such an iconic monument really hit me that I’m in London. My breath was taken away (and not just because of all the wind) and I felt like I could just stare for hours. Plus, the massive Houses of Parliament are in that same area. It doesn’t get more British than that!
Oh wait, but it does. After visiting Big Ben, I witnessed the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. Talk about a beautiful building! The “guards” are those guys that dress in the red coats and big furry black hats, which are called busbies (and by the way, against popular belief, they do talk). A ceremony of music, marching, and horses took place. My face was pressed up against the front gates. The view doesn’t get any better than that! That same afternoon, I spent time relaxing in St. James’s Park, which is nearby Buckingham Palace. It was actually sunny for once on that particular afternoon, making it an absolutely lovely day.
The very next day, I found myself back in that same area. I started my day gazing at Big Ben again, and then walked through the park full of trees, pigeons, and fresh flowers, finally making my way to Buckingham Palace. I was watching the guards again, but for a different reason. This time, they were being inspected by Queen Elizabeth. She was being pulled around in a fancy horse-drawn carriage. At times it was difficult to see through the hundreds of officers on horses (not to mention the 20,000 tourists). But I did in fact get a decent view of the queen (eventually). I did see her with my own eyes. Yep, that’s right. I was in the presence of royalty.
Only in London…
One week of study abroad classes down, four more weeks to go! Although, it’s not like I’m counting down the days I have left in London. I don’t want to rush this amazing experience. The course that I’m taking is called “Styling Fashion.” This is not a class offered in the fashion merchandising program at Fontbonne, which is one of the reasons I decided to take it at Regents School of Fashion and Design. I was nervous that the teacher was going to be really intense, but she is absolutely amazing. She is very cut-throat, but extremely knowledgeable, fun, and fabulous. There are 13 students in the class, which is nice. Coming from Fontbonne, I am used to having a small, intimate setting like this.
I was assigned to complete six photo shoots by the end of the term. Each one will have a theme that the student can be creative with in terms of styling, directing, photographing, etc. The shoots can take place in the campus studio or anywhere else out in the city if one decides to do so. Just in the first two class periods, we have traveled to the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Wallace Collection for inspiration (both of which contained stunning exhibits). The first shoot is called “Paper Whiteout,” in which I must construct a garment using only white paper. The second one is called “Deconstruct/Reconstruct.” For this one I will cut up a couple t-shirts and turn them into something completely new. After that I will do photo shoot called “Mood Food” and use any kind of food to make a garment, accessory, or whatever else my heart desires. Additional projects include “Weekend City Shoot,” Tribes,” and “The Rest is History.” The last one entails picking a famous icon, then emulating that icon in a modern way. I am extremely excited to be working on these assignments. I love hands-on projects, so this is definitely right up my alley. But this does not necessarily mean it is easy for me. I am still being challenged to use limited resources with a limited budget. One thing that’s not limited is creativity. Nobody can restrict that.
It’s still hitting me that this is my life right now. A few days ago I arrived in London to study abroad this summer. It’s hard to believe that this dream is now a reality. I have already seen and done so many amazing things, and this is only the beginning! My class starts tomorrow, so that will be when the studying experience begins. So far it has just felt like a vacation. During my first weekend in London, I explored numerous neighborhoods and markets, dined at pubs (as the British call most restaurants), visited the Fashion and Textile Museum, and went on a walking monument tour. One of the main attractions that I saw on the tour was the Tower Bridge of London. As I witnessed the iconic and beautiful architecture of the bridges, castles, and stores, it was hitting me more and more that this setting is going to be my lifestyle for the next few weeks. I feel so lucky to be here experiencing this opportunity.
Speaking of lucky, I also feel grateful for the wonderful people I’ve met and become friends with so quickly. There are about 30 other Regents School of Fashion and Design students that live in the same building as me, and I’ve gotten a chance to speak to most of them. It’s also nice that I have my own room with a bathroom, shower, desk, closet, bedding, etc. There is a communal area and a kitchen at the end of each hallway. This is a neat setup, but it feels weird yet cool to be doing all my own grocery shopping in markets in cute brick buildings with red double-decker buses driving by. I feel like a grown up that lives in London. Oh wait, I AM a grown up that lives in London! (At least I am for now, anyway.)